C3S finds a balance between affordability and highly reliable, robust solutions by using Harwin’s Gecko connector family in their new nanosatellite, VIREO

Sep 7, 2023

Harwin announces that its high-reliability Gecko connectors, which have been integrated into a research nanosatellite, have been successfully launched and ejected into low Earth orbit (LEO), and, after the deployment of its subsystems, remain fully operational.

Momentus, the U.S. commercial space company, recently announced that all customer payloads had been deployed from its Vigoride-6 Orbital Service Vehicle launched in April 2023 aboard the SpaceX Transporter-7 mission. One of these payloads is the VIREO CubeSat designed and manufactured by Hungary’s aerospace company, C3S. The unique deployment involved spending over a month on the carrier to determine the optimal orbit before seamlessly proceeding with its Earth observation experiments supported by onboard artificial intelligence (AI).

The Gecko connectors connect the HEDVIG (High-reliability Embedded Device for Visual Imaging Goals) payload (the cameras) with the Integrated Payload Controller and the AIOB-X core. Engineers at C3S selected the Gecko 1.25mm pitch connectors in preference to Micro-D connectors of a similar form factor with but higher current ratings, which were needed to bridge between the outputs from the payload and payload controller.

The cameras capture images of the Earth, and the AIOB-X core runs C3S’s partner’s AI code, which aims to demonstrate the technology of onboard pre-selection of the photos taken. It detects the images that are covered by clouds and deletes them so that only the photos that have helpful information about the Earth’s surface are downloaded. This helps save precious bandwidth in the company’s satellite-to-ground communication.

The glass-filled thermoplastic housings of the Gecko connectors make them weigh much less than the comparable Micro-D, while still having the necessary insulation characteristics. Considering CubeSats typically weigh less than 1.33 kg (3 lbs) per U, saving weight was a top priority for the C3S engineers. These housings are able to cope with exposure to extreme temperature levels spanning from -65°C to +150°C, another decisive factor while the satellite orbits between direct exposure to the sun and the shadow of the Earth. Another important factor, the Gecko connectors exhibit excellent outgassing properties, which helps ensure the cleanliness of the optics of the payload. In addition, the 4-finger design used for the beryllium copper contacts in the Gecko connectors ensures strong resilience to shock and vibration during launch.

“Harwin’s Gecko family is an ideal New Space solution for nanosatellite systems, bringing large-satellite reliability into the nanosatellite world at an affordable cost,” says László Bagó, Aerospace Hardware & System Engineer of C3S. “They can carry a substantial current at 1.25mm pitch, have very low outgassing parameters (which can be crucial when dealing with optics, for example), and one can choose between a wide variety of fixing and shielding options, as well as cable assemblies.”

For more information about Harwin’s Gecko connectors, which form part of the company’s, HRi range, please visit: https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/9W1MCl8BgS1EKC9xnbs?domain=harwin.com

 About C3S Ltd

C3S Ltd is a space industry company. Its activities focus on the design and manufacture of 3-16U high reliability platforms and robust, redundant subsystems that meet both commercial and scientific IoT constellation and Earth observation needs. The company’s mission operations system tracks the entire mission lifecycle from launch to completion. Among CubeSat companies, C3S has earned a prominent place by implementing large satellite solutions and technologies on a small scale that guarantee long life and high reliability. Beyond the world of CubeSats, it is present in large satellite projects as a designer of power and payload control systems. Its first 3U mission, RadCube, was launched in 2021. Its second mission, VIREO, also launched on a 3U platform, is entirely dedicated to industrial needs. For more information, visit: https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/HUL8Cm7DjfplYiBI2sU?domain=c3s.hu/

Images here: HAR082 

About Harwin

For over 70 years, Harwin has supplied engineers with the connectors needed to meet the most demanding specifications.  Harwin’s innovative interconnect portfolio of high-reliability products is designed for; ultra-high-performance applications in the harshest operating environments or within the tightest of spaces.

Today, Harwin products are found in a wide range of markets and applications globally.  These include space, avionics, defence, robotics, oil/gas, healthcare, motorsport, industrial drives, factory automation systems, autonomous vehicles, smart agriculture, electric vehicle battery management, and more.

Engineered and manufactured at Harwin’s production facilities in Portsmouth, England, its fully quality-assured product portfolio is divided across three product ranges, HRi, BBi and EZi.

  • HRi features high-reliability products – Gecko, Datamate, M300 and Kona.
  • BBi features board-to-board products – Archer Kontrol durable industrial connectors, Archer .5 and Archer .8 high-speed mezzanine connectors.
  • EZi features board-level hardware and accessories – EMI/RFI shielding cans and a comprehensive range of board-level hardware, including spacers, spring contacts, cable clips, and jumper links.

Available from an extensive network of leading global distributors and local specialist partners supported by Harwin’s worldwide aftersales team. Combined, this gives customers access to comprehensive stock and support whenever and wherever they need it.

NEWS

Find a GRASSHOPPER on the picture!

Find a GRASSHOPPER on the picture!

There is no milestone our GRASSHOPPER wouldn’t leap. We proudly post that together with ESA and Thales Alenia Space we closed the GRASSHOPPER’s Design Review, so now, before jumping to TRL5, we can concentrate on the climate chamber measurement and thermal simulation...

read more
3U CubeSat RadCube operates steadily

3U CubeSat RadCube operates steadily

After many important mission milestones, our 3U CubeSat RadCube steadily operates with its cutting-edge subsystems. Approaching the end phase of the commissioning schedule, today we run a health check on the primary payload RadMag. Fingers crossed for Energiatudományi...

read more
RadCube has been operating flawlessly since launch

RadCube has been operating flawlessly since launch

Our RadCube satellite has been flawlessly operating for 8 days now. For the last days, we have continuously inspected the platform’s operation round-by-round. The downlinked telemetry data shows that the solar panels have opened, MPPTs are properly charging the...

read more
RadCube was successfully launched

RadCube was successfully launched

On the 17th of August 2021, at 03:47 CEST, C3S’s 3U-sized satellite platform was successfully launched into Low Earth Orbit. Since the launch by Arianespace Vega VV19 rocket we were able to establish a connection with Radcube, so a little time after the separation, we...

read more
RadCube will be launched on the 17th of August, 2021

RadCube will be launched on the 17th of August, 2021

On the 17th of August, 2021 C3S’s 3U platform will be launched. The spacecraft, that was born under the European Space Agency (ESA) General Support Technology Programme’s (GSTP) RadCube mission, is the first industrial satellite being built in Hungary, and so far, the...

read more
Our unique CubeSat structure is featured in NASA’s „State of the Art of Small Spacecraft Technology” study

Our unique CubeSat structure is featured in NASA’s „State of the Art of Small Spacecraft Technology” study

NASA’s editor team reached out to us again this year, to introduce the improvements of innovative CubeSat structures previously shortlisted in their original study. We were honored to present the upgraded version of our structure, that uses backplane PCB for bus communication which is intended to provide independent assembly order, simplifies the stack-up tolerances, and uses space graded interface connectors.

read more